A view backstage at Beverley Minster

And so it starts all over again

Neil Pickford contemplates the year ahead, with horror
Now I know that this is the time of year when second-rate columnists who are short of ideas can rabbit on with wild predictions about coming trends and events – certain in the knowledge that no one will read or remember them.
I am different.
I know that you, my quality readers, will both read AND remember, so I thought I’d better take a bit more care with my words. So you will not be reading any fantastic follies from me about both virgers getting OBEs in the next New Year Honours for services to roof tours. I shall also keep to myself the pious hope that a public-hearted floor-cleaning business will take over our duties of scrubbing, cleaning and protecting our stone floor this year.
It is slightly more possible that a location scout would discover that Beverley Minster was perfect as the backdrop for a major blockbuster movie. Even better if it was a blockbuster based on my own writings, with me as a highly-paid on-site script consultant ,  but I have to admit that that’s about as unlikely as me becoming Pope.
Heck, I’d be happy if my column was made into a sit com for BBC3 – or even a one hour special on the Discovery Channel that was only ever broadcast at 3 in the morning but I’m too realistic to predict any of those coming to pass either.
Instead, I’m going to proffer some much more realistic scenarios which may lack the glamour of the above but at least have the advantage of being verifiable.
For a start I predict the Minster will host an exhibition or series of displays of the graffiti inside the building. One of the dedicated team of researchers who keep exploring the old place in minute detail has made a special study of the unofficial carvings which overlay the basic structure – and very interesting some of them are. Amongst the mediaeval equivalent of: “Fred wuz ‘ere” are representations of boats, musical notation and even games or patterns.
It’s a whole sub-culture in its own right and there’s a good chance we’ll be able to show off more about them over the May Bank Holidays.
I (fairly confidently) also predict that 2012 will see the conclusion of 2011’s slow but positive progress towards opening the western end of the Minster churchyard to the general public – a scheme very much supported by the virgers.
There is a desire and good will among many parties to see this go ahead and very helpful cooperation from the council, (who are responsible for looking after the grounds these days) so we may well see this project reach completion soon. We do hope so – it’s something that people want very much – giving them the opportunity to explore and experience the building in a different way and also just enjoy being in a safe and secure green environment.
Whenever we open the gates for a wedding we virgers always have to hunt around the perimeter before closing time to clear out people who are enjoying the facility unofficially. It’ll be so much better to do it properly and have a set routine so everyone knows that, if they do get locked in, then it’s their own fault and not mine.
But there is still a very, very faint chance that this may not happen and as I don’t want to be a hostage to good fortune I’m going to predict something of which I am absolutely certain.
I predict that the month of January will be largely occupied in cleaning duties.
Actually, that’s hardly a prediction as it’s already started in a small way. The two 20 foot Christmas trees will be down, their carpet of needles extracted from (almost) every awkward crack and hole that they have infiltrated and then the task of removing all traces of Christmas 2011 will begin in earnest.
The model of Market Weighton railway station in the 1930s will be gone, the large forest of tree artworks created and presented by the High School will be back home and then it will be easy to find a virger – just follow the roar of a vacuum-cleaner and there will be either John or me in close proximity.
In previous years I have waxed lyrical about how our Henrys are the perfect machines for the task, being sufficiently powerful and flexible to clean floors, high window sills and even delicate wooden carvings some 20 foot above the ground – so much so that you may have thought I was getting paid for product placement in my articles. Sadly, that’s not the case which is why I can confidently predict I shall not be enjoying a family holiday this year on Sir Richard Branson’s private island in the company of other nouveau riche.
And my final bold prediction for this week is that I will soon be heartily sick of the sound of Henrys, so the chances of me doing any vacuuming at home in January are slim to non-existent. That’s why I bought my wife a Henry of her own a few Christmases ago. I don’t let her play with my toys and I’m sure she wouldn’t want me to play with hers.
Actually, I can confidently predict a row will follow when she reads that sentence. Oh dear.
So ho hum and Happy New Year to us all.

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